Feeling Unfulfilled? Read This.

living your passion“How the hell do people do this?”

I’d just walked in from a long day’s work — something I should be thankful for in a down economy. My hands felt like ice blocks and my face was numb from the jolting breeze. I couldn’t get my coat off soon enough so I could sink into the mocha that is my couch and think about something other than email, a project, or a person I need to meet with tomorrow. This is a feeling I’ve gotten to know too well. Despite the fact I like what I do for work and where I work, I still wonder if I’m doing what I’d like to do for the rest of my life. The answer’s obvious:

No.

Looking back a few years, let’s say 2009. I was at the point of hating my (then) job. I hated it so much that I slunk into a depression that didn’t just affect me during indentured servitude. And I don’t mean depression in the generic way we commonly use it. I mean in the sense I felt burnt out, was irritable, and generally withdrew from people that weren’t close to me. Even some of them felt the effects. It was rough. Really rough.

Eventually, after putting my job search prowess to the test, I secured a new job. It was a defining moment in my career. Nah, it was the defining moment. It meant that I was officially about to start the one I’d been been looking for.

Hearing “we’d like to make you an offer” was enough to bring a tear, actually a few. It was April of 2010 and the nightmare I’d willingly walked into turned into one of the pictures off my vision board. It was time to start a career in the field I went to school for, working at place where I was more than a dollar sign, and working in a city busting at the seams and bustling with opportunity.

That was a great day. The sun shined a little brighter.

So I packed up my life in Boston and made the move to NYC. Still in disbelief at what I pulled that off, I imagined life would be like over the next few years. I thought about moving up the HR ladder, changing the world one spreadsheet and employee award at a time, and becoming the Director or VP of Human Resources at some world-renown organization. But over time that changed.

From December 2011 until late January 2012, I was focused on passing my Professional in Human Resources exam. I was more pressed to pass that than I was to get a 1400 on my SATs back when there were only 1600 points total. Fortunately, the exam turned out to be easier than expected — despite what I read in forums. Maybe it was luck. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was the way I studied on a bus, in a train, in a car, or in a hallway with Droid, notebook, or practice tests in hands. Yeah, I’ll go with that.

Anyway, after I passed the exam, I was optimistic. Ready once again to take the HR world by storm. It was also hell season at work, which made it feel all the more heavenly. I rode that wave into the Summer of 2012, then a familiar feeling sent me a text to make sure I didn’t forget her.

I felt burnt out. Again.

What was crazy about this was that I didn’t hate my job. I didn’t dislike my coworkers or the horses they rode in on. I just felt exhausted from the whole “day job” thing. It’s not supposed to feel that way, but sometimes it does. With what felt like an eternity before I finally made that relaxing trip to the Dominican Republic, I lived out what my frat means by Perseverance. Most importantly, mentally.

Perseverance through struggle will teach you some things. It taught me the value of adequate rest, disconnecting from the world we so easily get wrapped up in. It taught me that I can’t expect to go 100 mph 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It also taught me to really reflect and think about what I wanna do. What talents I’d like to use. Where could I best use them. And when I came back from sandy beaches and finite luxury, my outlook was different.

I tingled at the thought of a new path, to finally put myself in a position to sign my own paychecks in a few years. I’d be working in basketball shorts with an overpriced bluetooth on while watching dolphins out the window. I knew how I’d get there. How much time and money it’d take. I knew where I’d end up.

dolphins

And since then, I’ve been thinking about this new destiny…or destination; either works. More importantly, I’ve thought about where my talents would be best used and my happiness most maximized — even if I have to work for somebody else. In fact, I expect to. It’s all part of the plan.

All this to say I’ve become more conscious and aware of how short life is. So short that you shouldn’t spend it doing something you’re not passionate about to get something you depend on. If you realize you should be doing something else, you need to get to work on doing something else. Make that shit happen.

If you truly want that other thing, in time, you’ll have it. If you’re diligent and focused, you’ll find what you’re looking for. If not, get used to the nightmares.

They’ll be there everynight until you wake up.

Late Nights for Free Days,

slimjackson

Twitter: @slimjackson

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  • http://www.OpinionatedMale.com Mr SoBo

    A very timely post. I, much like the majority of people in the rat race, can certainly relate to this discouraging empty life, as well as the awakening that comes with it.

    I too was feeling burned out and it was after receiving the following video a few months back that allowed me to walk away from my company of 5 years.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siu6JYqOZ0g

    I would encourage anyone at this stage in life having these feelings and questions to watch the short 3 min video. I found it inspirational and motivating to the point I played on repeat daily. There is absolutely no need to be an unhappy slave to the system. Shelving one's dreams, desires, and passions for a steady paycheck. Not the way to go, and certainly not the road to happiness. The worker bee life.

    It is imperative to take back the reigns on one's life and take the risks associated with one's desires and passions. Otherwise, the nightmare, frustrations, and burned out feeling will undoubtedly continue.
    No need for me to add anything further, as you already said it all. Good post Slim.

    -Mr. SoBo
    OpinionatedMale.com
    My recent post What a Maneuver!! Will Pro Wrestling Ever Suplex it’s Racial Stereotypes?

  • MaggK

    Great post, when i read this i'm like so happy to love my job olala!!!
    But hey good luck. I really encourage you, like you said life is too short!!!
    And congrats for that HR exam cuz i heard it was hard too :) !

  • Nika

    I come to this site about once every two months, and there's always something good to read. When I was 19 I landed a job at AT&T making nearly $60k(alot for a person under 21). I worked there for 5 years getting promoted nearly every year. But I never felt fufilled and always felt burnt out and depressed about waking up to go to work. So when they closed down our regional office and offered me the chance to move to Virginia, I passed. I was 24 and 9/11 had just happened.
    So like so many other young people at the time, I felt something calling me to serve my country. I joined the Air Force with dreams of being a world famous photojournalist. Instead I became a glorified "fixer" of other people's problems.
    After an 8 year Air Force career as a photojournalist/ public relations specialist. Burned out doesn't even begin to describe where I was. I put in countless hours, just to make the same exact thing the people who were leaving on time were making. Looking back, I don't know what I was thinking.
    Things came to a head for me one day after a girlfriend noticed hives on my body. We had a big event that we were planning and we were expecting 250 to 300 thousand people to attend. So it was a big deal. I knew I was stressed, I just didn't realize how much. After a visit to a doctor I was told that my body had become allergic to my own adrenalin. My hair was falling out and I only weighed 95 pounds when I should have weighed at least 115. I stopped having a period. I was feeling sore and tired all the time. The job was literally killing me. Then on top of that I was deployed to the Middle East. To say my stress level rose is an understatement. It only takes getting shot at once to realize something isn't for you. We don't all want to be a hero.
    So with four months left before I would have to sigh a new contract to stay in, I told my boss it was the end of the line for me. I didn't even really have a plan. I only had $7,000 saved up, which doesn't go far in D.C. But what I did have was the G.I. Bill. I knew my degree in Psychology wasn't going to get me far, so going back to school for free would give my body the break it needed and would give me some perspective. I look back at my time in the military and in the Middle East with disbelief that it was ever me who did all those things and what an adventure it was. But living for me was more important.
    Like Slim, I have a vision of something much greater. I often worried at first about what my parent's would think, " there she goes again giving up a good paying job." But sometimes you have to put yourself first, and not worry about what anyone else thinks and simply just step out on faith.

  • msb616

    i love these posts. I found myself overwhelmed with school, my new life in nyc and the ever growing journey to my final destination in the latter part of 2012. Impatience killed my passion and totally left me wanting more than i was ready for (which left me feeling unfulfilled). Knowing what I want out of life is both a blessing and curse. Blessing b/c I know what I want and a curse b/c I want it right now. But I too traveled to DR last month. I volunteered and seeing how people there lived reminded me to slow down. Life is short..but if we get ahead of ourselves we wont enjoy the moments we're in.

    thanks for sharing as always, Slimillion!

  • Smilez_920

    I know the feeling .. It’s a little too familiar. At this point I try to stay grateful, take whatever lessons / skills I’ve learned and enjoy the moment while pushing forward. On that note, I have a cover letter and resume I need to send out by Friday. I do my part and leave the rest to God. I try to look at all of the positive things and people I have in my life and continue to look and prepare myself for a new opportunity , that’s really all you can do.

  • Jason Gardner

    Thanks for this.

  • Ali34

    Great post…really needed to hear that!

  • Peter Parker

    Yeah good post Slim. Concur with everything as I went through a time period just like this before realizing what I wanted to do with my life career wise. With the help of friends, family members, mentors, and preparing myself mentally for a long period of grinding, it all paid off. I will tell anyone, if you are not passionate about your career and you only view what you are doing as a job, then i highly recommend you take an assessment of what you like and don't like and go from there. Research careers that fit your skill set and pursue your dreams…We only live once and life is definitely too short just to wake up every morning with no fullfillment and to go to a place because you need to pay bills…

  • Muze

    *pompoms*
    My recent post too much, too soon?

  • Bree

    great post

  • http://glippost.wordpress.com Darrk Gable

    This is one to print out and save when life starts getting hectic. Thanks for this.

  • morganthewriter

    This post makes me want to finish that novel I've been working on. Thanks for the motivation; I needed it immensely.
    My recent post Morgan’s Rant #3: The 9 Reasons I Don’t Go to Clubs and Parties

  • http://twitter.com/mssexydanielle @mssexydanielle

    Thanks for this post! This is exactly where I am right now…